With two tight ends banged up and another facing a four-game suspension, the New England Patriots were needy at the position. Now they’re less so.
The Patriots acquired tight end Eric Saubert for a conditional draft pick in a trade with the Falcons, Atlanta announced Monday. The Patriots are sending a conditional seventh-round pick, sources told ESPN’s Mike Reiss. Saubert was selected in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft out of Drake.
Bill Belichick wouldn’t confirm the trade when asked about it during Monday morning’s news conference.
Saubert caught five passes for 48 yards in 16 games last season. He was held catch-less in 14 games as a rookie in 2017 and has one catch for 7 yards in two preseason games this summer.
Patriots tight end Matt LaCosse left the Patriots’ preseason opener with an apparent leg injury. Tight end Lance Kendricks, who’s also dealing with an undisclosed ailment, didn’t make the trip to Detroit last week for joint practices with the Lions.
That leaves the Patriots with Ben Watson, who is suspended the first four games of the 2019 season, Ryan Izzo and Stephen Anderson as New England’s only healthy tight ends. The Patriots also have fullbacks James Develin, Andrew Beck and Jakob Johnson on their roster.
The Patriots will need to trade or release a player or place someone on injured reserve to make room for Saubert on their 90-man roster.